COVID-19: mental health of 41% of British population at risk

COVID-19: mental health of 42% of British population at risk
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An international study has revealed that 41% of the UK population’s mental health is at risk because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Led by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Spain) spin-off Open Evidence, the study has revealed that one in two people in the UK felt down, depressed or hopeless about the future due to the COVID-19 crisis – putting 41% of the nation’s mental health at risk.

The research project, which involves Glasgow University, Università degli Studi di Milano, Università degli Studi di Trento, Tilburg University and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, also indicates that almost 60% of the UK population require “the government not only to focus on containing the virus, but also on preventing a major economic crisis.”

Analysing stress in response to COVID-19

The study aimed to analyse the stress levels and trauma related behavioural changes regarding the pandemic by collecting data on people from the UK, Spain and Italy for three weeks from April to May.

Sampling 10,551 people (3,523 in the United Kingdom, 3,524 in Spain and 3,504 in Italy) the first survey revealed that most of the population between 18 and 75 years of age report having felt down, depressed, or hopeless about the future at some point during this period: 57% in the United Kingdom, 67% in Spain and 59% in Italy.

Cristiano Codagnone, co-founder of one of the participating entities, UOC spin-off Open Evidence, said: “The data provides a picture on the impact of the lockdown and we need to be prepared for the associated social and health consequences of that.”

Economic anxiety

The survey showed that citizens in the three countries were concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the economy – 60% in the UK and Spain and 65% in Italy, all agreeing that governments need to focus on the prevention of a major economic crisis.

The individuals surveyed were also asked about measures for lifting the lockdown, with 70% of people in the UK and Spain, and almost 65% of Italians, agreeing that: “The government needs to inform citizens about what needs to be done to comply with safety measures, as well as clearly explain plans for exiting lockdown.”

Using algorithms to analyse the survey data

Open Evidence, a UOC spin-off with more than 20 years’ experience, specialises in conducting big data research to analyse the impact of different factors on society.

Its co-founder, Codagnone, explains that the organisation was “responsible for the development and training of an algorithm to analyse all the socio-demographic and socio-economic variables included in the survey.”

The initiative is funded by Open Evidence and BDI-Schlesinger.

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